Built-in Windows 11 RAR and 7Z support is far from ideal, twice and several times slower in operation
August 27, 2023

Built-in Windows 11 RAR and 7Z support is far from ideal, twice and several times slower in operation

Microsoft Plans Major Feature Update for Windows 11

Microsoft plans to release a major feature update for the Windows 11 operating system sometime later this year. Version 23H2 is expected to introduce many improvements that will raise the quality of work and introduce new features, including a redesign of the File Explorer application. One of the best new features that the redesigned File Explorer will bring is native support for RAR, TAR, 7Z, and other file compression formats. Specifically, this means that you will no longer have to search for, download and subsequently install dedicated applications for decompressing the specified archive formats on the Internet.

Before Windows 11 version 23H2, ZIP was the only standard supported archive format at the level of the most popular operating system. Because of this, users had to opt for third-party applications to work with RAR, 7Z, and similar files. While there’s no shortage of free file compression apps out there, native support is always a better solution for the average user because you don’t have to look for a special program to decompress the contents of a random downloaded archive.

Windows 11 RAR Support is Generally OK, Though Not Ideal

Still, this change begs the question: Can the updated File Explorer replace WinRAR, 7Zip, NanaZIP and similar dedicated applications for those who often work with archives? To answer this very interesting question, the editors of the neowin.net website decided to test the updated File Explorer and compare it with the performance of the WinRAR application, probably the most popular program of this type.

The test showed that File Explorer had no problem recognizing TAR archives and could easily handle its competitors WinRAR and NanaZIP: all three finished the job in about 80 seconds.

RAR was next and immediately fired up File Explorer, causing the unzipping operation to complete in almost six minutes, which is more than three times slower than WinRAR and twice the time taken by NanaZIP. The results are far from great.

Working with 7Z archives added salt to the wound: File Explorer took almost nine minutes to do this job, while WinRAR and NanaZIP finished the same in about one minute.

Advanced Options Are Missing

Regardless of whether it was an Intel or an AMD platform, the results were similar. All of this unequivocally leads to the conclusion that the applications of independent software houses are much better and faster in decompressing files than the improved version of File Explorer.

The question is, is this a big problem for most users? Difficult, if you are one of those users who rarely mess with archives. However, on the other hand, it is unlikely that those who often work with archives will simply discard WinRAR, NanaZIP, 7Zip and other applications.

And it’s not all about inferior performance — File Explorer is significantly less convenient to work with. For example, it doesn’t show a proper status bar of the unzipping process while it’s being done, then it can’t open a password-protected archive, and ZIP remains the only supported format when you need to pack a bunch of files into an archive. Not to mention numerous other functions such as splitting files, adjusting the compression ratio, etc.

While Microsoft could definitely make the archiving support better and faster, we probably shouldn’t be too critical of the current implementation. The next time will definitely be better, and as it is, it will be quite enough for most ordinary, less demanding users.